The Cardinals are counting on injury prone guys in Berkman, Beltran, and Holliday to anchor that lineup, no one knows if Berkman can replicate last year's season and we'll see how well Wainwright recovers from TJ surgery. The Brewers got better on defense, still have a killer offense, a better bullpen this year, and has the best pitching staff in the Central.
Well, Bill James disagrees with you
on that last point:
Milwaukee: (IP, FIP)
Yovani Gallardo (203, 3.31)
Zack Greinke (202, 3.23)
Randy Wolf (217, 4.36)
Shaun Marcum (207, 4.01)
Chris Narveson (133, 4.24)
St. Louis: (IP, FIP)
Chris Carpenter (216, 3.25)
Adam Wainwright (209, 3.24)
Jaime Garcia (183, 3.47)
Kyle Lohse (170, 4.09)
Jake Westbrook (183, 4.35)
Cardinals weren't far behind Brewers last year - eighth best pitching staff in MLB to Milwaukee's fourth - and we've made enough improvements that I'm honestly not worried. Full seasons in high-leverage roles for Jason Motte, Eduardo Sanchez, Fernando Salas, Lance Lynn, and Marc Rzepczynski? Boggs revamping his system? Plus, opportunities for Linebrink and Kyle McClellan to make the bullpen? Honestly, Cardinals pitching hasn't looked better in quite a while.
|It's gonna be a close race again, but it's not going to be "easier" for the Cardinals to win it this year. Prince was a great first baseman but he wasn't the best player on the team, there are probably 4 players on the Brewers right now more valuable than Prince.|
Furthermore, Pujols managed a 5.1 WAR last year, while Prince racked up 5.5. I really feel like Prince's departure impacts more than Albert's.
I'm honestly not worried at all with him being gone. Lance Berkman plays better at 1st than he does in the OF. The numbers are there. Plus, everything's looking great for Wainright so far.
By no means am I considering the NL Central a "lock." It's gonna be a close race for sure. I don't think the Reds are is in it as everyone seems to want them to be, but honestly I'm feeling better about our chances at the division than I was last year. Braun being back kind of throws a wrench in some of my predictions, but it's okay. Not like he was ACTUALLY the most valuable player in the NL last year anyway, haha.